What do you think of when you think of a small-town library? Maybe a small brick building full of musty books? Perhaps there is not a computer in sight, with no internet, no automation and an unfriendly old librarian who is unwilling to change with the times? Three area libraries defy that stereotype and bring a variety of modern services to their patrons. Maquon District Public Library, Village of Avon Public Library and Greig Memorial Library in Oneida (IL) have much in common, while having their own unique characteristics.The Maquon library is a district library, and serves a tax base of five townships. Mardell May has been librarian there for about a year, and brought automation to the library in March. She also hopes to expand the library to include a historical museum. READ MORE
With a dash of the board game Clue, an element of theater, and a guaranteed adrenaline rush, escape rooms have taken off in a big way. According to a July 2015 MarketWatch article, at least 2,800 have sprung up across the globe since 2010. As a team-building exercise that encourages participants to flex their logic muscles, escape rooms are a hit with corporate organizers. It’s also why youth librarians are getting into the spirit of escapism.“Anytime I experience something cool in my real life, I think, ‘How could I bring this to the library?’” says Karissa Alcox, escape room aficionado and youth librarian at Fort Erie (Ont.) Public Library. “It takes place indoors, and you don’t need much aside from some locks and props—a library can afford to do it.” Alcox adds, “Plus, it encourages critical-thinking skills and participatory storytelling.”Last November, Alcox planned such an event at the Kitchener (Ont.) Public Library to coincide with the American Library Association’s International Games Day. She used a large room with a fire exit, cordoned off “problem areas” such as the surge closet, and brought in pros from a popular local escape room facility. To appeal to all ages, the library team designed three versions of the clues—easy, moderate, and difficult—and had players select their level ahead of time. READ MORE
Inability to physically get to a Manatee County (FL) library branch will no longer stop residents from accessing the library system’s materials.This summer, Manatee libraries launched its new Books by Mail program, which allows Manatee County residents to be mailed materials if they are physically unable to travel to one of the county’s libraries.“It is important because this is an underserved population that often gets forgotten about in libraries,” said Rachel Suntop, a county librarian who is running the program. “As librarians, we believe in everyone getting equal access to our materials.” READ MORE
In August, the city council of Pleasant Hill, California, voted unanimously to place on the November ballot a measure that would raise the sales tax from 8.5 percent to 9 percent.  The increase would fund, among other things, a new Pleasant Hill Library.Chronicling the decision for the Friends of the Pleasant Hill Library was blogger Julie McPherson, whose passionate posts have not only spurred advocacy efforts, but also spread her enthusiasm about the power of libraries to transform lives.In her post, “Misty-eyed at City Hall,” she reported that several spoke on behalf of the library, including Friends director at large, a professional librarian named Crystal Schimpf, who “pointed out that ‘a modern library is designed to meet the needs of our modern community.’ ‘A 21st-century library,’ she assured us, ‘is a library of right now.’”McPherson is an example of the importance of Friends groups in supporting libraries, especially during an era when they can expand their influence through social media.  Patrick Remer, manager of the library, which is part of the Contra Costa County Library system, said the impact of the Friends is “huge.” READ MORE
Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA) has introduced the Don’t Block LGBTQ Act, which would ensure LGBTQ resources aren’t blocked at public schools and libraries in California, his office announced Thursday (September 29).Currently, public schools and libraries that get internet service subsidies through the e-Rate program have to filter content so that obscene content, child pornography, and “content harmful to minors” is blocked, according to Honda’s office. However, individual schools and libraries “can block useful LGBT resources that are not sexually explicit in any way,” the announcement says.Honda’s bill would ensure the Federal Communications Commission protects useful LGBTQ resources without modifying other filters.“As we approach LGBTQ History Month,” which is in October, “the contributions of LGBTQ people should be accessible to everyone at public schools and public libraries,” Honda, who has a transgender granddaughter, stated. “We have seen how filters can block students and adults from useful resources. Whether a gay man is learning how to come out or a transgender woman is finding trans-specific health care, the publicly funded Internet access should remain open to everyone in the LGBTQ community.” READ MORE
June Brittingham goes to work like any other librarian, in a building with posters on the wall, a carpeted floor and books arranged according to the Dewey Decimal system.  The only difference is she passes through a metal detector, series of automated sliding doors and pristinely gardened prison yard on her way to work.The library at Eastern Correctional Institution, a medium-security prison in Westover, Maryland, serves a population of around 3,400 inmates, though only those who seek its services go there.  For that small percentage, the building is an oasis amidst incarcerated life.“It’s the one place they can come to for 45 minutes that is not prison,” said Brittingham, who also serves as Maryland’s supervisor of correctional libraries. “We don’t have bars on our windows— we have carpeted floors, we have colorful bookshelves.”“Even though they’re locked up here, they can experience anything through books,” she said. READ MORE
courtesy of KTHVLibrary officials say the Great Falls Public Library (MT) is getting a facelift.Work started on a new mural Saturday on the building’s south-facing outside wall. The project is funded by the Great Falls Public Library Foundation, which has provided the library with resources through fundraising since 1968. READ MORE
Libraries not only transform communities – they are, in turn, transformed by them.  This is certainly true as it applies to Friends of the Library groups.By Steve ZaluskyLibraries may be the hub of their communities, but Friends of the Library groups supply the spokes that turn the wheel.  Through fundraisers like book sales, they help support the library. But they also play a critical role when the library goes to the voters for needed funds. READ MORE
Collective impact channels the knowledge and resources of multiple partners towards a specific social problem. With their commitment to meeting patrons needs, libraries seek ways to serve and strengthen their communities. Sometimes, however, the needs rise beyond the conventional realm of library services—and this has been particularly true since the recession. Through the strength of non-traditional partnerships, libraries offer innovative solutions to a variety of challenges faced by their communities. READ MORE
Cynthia Shutts has an omnivorous passion for Young Adult literature.She said she logs between 300 and 400 books per year. Her favorites include “Gabi, a Girl in Pieces,” by Isabel Quintero.  “I felt like it was just so realistic, because you could feel that you were actually in California and you could feel what the characters were feeling,” she said.Shutts is not a teen. But as a librarian, she passes on her love of YA literature to the teens who patronize the White Oak Library District.  Her library will be among those celebrating Teen Read Week, an annual celebration that promotes the many ways librarians encourage all teens to be regular readers and library users.This year, Oct. 9-15, Teen Read Week, a national initiative created by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), features a multi-lingual "Read for the fun of it!" theme. The theme highlights the resources and services available to the 22 percent of the nation’s youth who speak a language other than English at home.Ten libraries will be promoting the theme with grant dollars they received through the Teen Read Week Activity Grant, bestowed by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to help fund each library’s literacy-focused Teen Read Week activities. READ MORE